'The Last of Us' season 2 release date speculation, cast, news and more

Pedro Pascal as Joel Miller in The Last of Us season 2
(Image credit: Max)

It didn't take long for HBO to greenlight "The Last of Us" season 2. The first season was a massive success not only for the prestige TV network but for the entire genre of video game adaptations. So, unsurprisingly, HBO announced a second season with a press release on January 27, 2023.

Neil Druckmann, co-creator of the game and executive producer of the series, was effusive in his response to the news. "I’m humbled, honored, and frankly overwhelmed that so many people have tuned in and connected with our retelling of Joel and Ellie’s journey. The collaboration with Craig Mazin, our incredible cast & crew, and HBO exceeded my already high expectations ... Now we have the absolute pleasure of being able to do it again with season two! On behalf of everyone at Naughty Dog & PlayStation, thank you!"

Speaking of Mazin, who already had a hit HBO show in "Chernobyl," he too was overjoyed at the news. "I’m so grateful to Neil Druckmann and HBO for our partnership, and I’m even more grateful to the millions of people who have joined us on this journey ... The audience has given us the chance to continue, and as a fan of the characters and world Neil and Naughty Dog created, I couldn’t be more ready to dive back in."

Well, we're ready to dive back in too. So below, we're going to get into everything related to "The Last of Us" season 2, from release date speculation and casting announcements to other news and more.

'The Last of Us' season 2 release date speculation and filming updates

Between Bella Ramsey meeting her new cast members and behind-the-scenes set photos starting to leak, it does seem that production has begun on season 2. Fans have started sharing photos of what they think are filming locations in British Columbia, Canadaand hype has officially started building.

For his part, showrunner Craig Mazin has poured a bit of cold water on speculation caused by these filming locations. In an episode of his podcast Scriptnotes (h/t Game Rant), Mazin revealed that most fan theories about season 2 have been incorrect, which is impressive given that this show is literally based on a video game that's been out for years. "I wish I could put my arm around each one of them and say ‘No.’ Most of the theories are incorrect, some of them are half ways correct, some of the conjecture is like 28% correct, but I do enjoy it all."

It's not all bad news though. As of April 13, episodes 1 and 2 are reportedly both finished, according to The Last of Us News. More filming will also take place in downtown Nanaimo in May 2024. The production team was last seen on April 29 setting up in Diana Krall Plaza for a five-week shoot. 

May 3 brings more filming updates from The Last of Us News on Twitter (X). The caption reads "Post-apocalyptic greenery is taking over downtown Nanaimo BC as part of the set for The Last of Us Season 2". It seems as though they're making good progress with filming. Check out the video below:

It's important to note that despite filming being in full swing "The Last of Us" season 2 will probably take some time to make. The first season took 11 months to film and then a further six months of post-production. Chairman and CEO of HBO and Max Content Casey Bloys has seemed to indicate that a release date won't arrive until 2025. 

As of May 15, it has been confirmed by Max's official Twitter (X) account that "The Last of Us" season 2 is in production (even though we technically knew that). And it is coming to the streaming platform sometime in early 2025. We also have two photos, one of Pedro Pascal as Joel and the other as Bella Ramsey's Ellie. Judging by these images alone, Joel (with his longer hair) appears to be in the party scene, while Ellie looks considerably angry with a pointed gun. Maybe this will take place during her travels with Dina (Isabela Merced). 

'The Last of Us' season 2 cast

An image indicating spoilers are ahead.

Warning: Spoilers for "The Last of Us" game and TV franchise to follow

Currently, "The Last of Us" is led by Pedro Pascal as Joel Miller, one of the American survivors of a global pandemic caused by the Cordyceps fungus. In this post-apocalyptic world, he is charged with the care of Ellie Williams (Bella Ramsey), a teenager immune to the effects of the fungal infection. A militia faction known as the Fireflies is trying to get Ellie to a facility in Colorado where they can synthesize a cure from her blood/body/etc.

The first season ends with Joel killing the Fireflies in Colorado after he learns that synthesizing the cure will kill Ellie. We now arrive at season 2 with Ellie, after being lied to by Joel, believing that the attempt to find a cure was unsuccessful. They've now returned to Jackson, Wyoming, where Joel's brother Tommy (Gabriel Luna) has joined a thriving community in the American wilderness.

But Joel's actions have consequences, and they're coming in season 2. HBO has officially cast Kaitlyn Dever as Abby, a major character in the second game. Abby's father was killed in Joel's raid on the Colorado facility and was the surgeon set to operate on Ellie. Now, Abby is looking for revenge and will be a main character going forward. 

Joining Abby on her quest for revenge are Manny, Mel, Nora and Owen. These four worked closely with Abby's father at the Fireflies' compound in Colorado and Owen was even Abby's former boyfriend. Expect a lot screen time showing these five together. Danny Ramirez, Ariela Barer, Tati Gabrielle and Spencer Lord have been cast as Manny, Mel, Nora and Owen respectively (h/t The Hollywood Reporter).

The day after Dever was cast as Abby it was announced that Young Mazino (most well-known from "Beef") would be joining the show as Jesse. Jesse is one of Ellie's friends in Jackson and leads one of the community's patrol groups. While potentially not as big as Abby in season 2's story, he's still an important character to cast.

One character that will be as big as Abby is Dina, and HBO announced her casting the day after it announced that Mazino would be playing Jesse. Isabela Merced, who is in "Madame Web" and "Alien: Romulus", will be playing Dina in season 2.

Dina is also one of the members of the Jackson community and at one point is romantically involved with Jesse. But for most of the second season, she'll be Ellie's romantic partner. She, Ellie and Jesse will all be working closely together in the fulfillment of Ellie's quest that occupies most of Ellie's storyline in the second video game. That same quest will likely be the main focus of season 2, so expect plenty of screen time for the trio.

Apparently, the cast has already met and Ramsey came away impressed from their first meeting. In an interview with GamesRadar, Ramsey said "I’m incredibly happy with who has been cast. It’s exciting for me. I’m happy to have a whole new bunch of people come and join the family. It’s gonna be a lot of fun."

Merced actually spoke to Collider recently (April 29) about her role in the show and her instant connection with Ramsey. She said: "I’m so excited for people to see my chemistry with Bella. We have so much chemistry. From the first day, it was there. There’s no work to be done. I really respect Bella. I just saw 'Catherine Called Birdy' and Bella has such range and just honesty about their work. I’m learning so much. I’m very honored to be here." 

Catherine O'Hara was in talks to play a character named Gail according to rumors on Twitter (X) and shortly after that rumor was let loose into the world Variety confirmed the casting announcement. There are also rumors that she could play the Seraphite Prophet, a messianic figure in the second video game who people (a cult named the "Seraphites") made shrines for throughout Seattle. However, the character she will be playing is still top secret.

Here's everyone we know will be in "The Last of Us" season 2:

  • Pedro Pascal as Joel Miller, a middle-aged survivor in the post-apocalyptic U.S. and father figure to Ellie.
  • Bella Ramsey as Ellie Williams, a teenage girl whose body potentially holds the key to curing the world, something that (seemingly) only Joel knows at this point.
  • Gabriel Luna as Tommy Miller, a member of a survivors' community in Jackson, Wyoming, and Joel's brother.
  • Kaitlyn Dever as Abigail "Abby" Anderson, the daughter of a surgeon murdered by Joel, turned soldier on a quest for revenge.
  • Young Mazino as Jesse, a member of the Jackson community's patrol and one of Ellie's friends.
  • Isabela Merced as Dina, a member of the Jackson community and Ellie's love interest in season 2.
  • Danny Ramirez as Manny Alvarez, a close friend of Abby's and a former member of the Fireflies.
  • Ariela Barer as Mel, a medic who worked with Abby's father and a former member of the Fireflies. 
  • Tati Gabrielle as Nora Harris, a medical officer who worked with Abby's father and a former member of the Fireflies. 
  • Spencer Lord as Owen Moore, a former member of the Fireflies and Abby's ex-boyfriend.
  • Catherine O’Hara in an unknown role. 

'The Last of Us' season 2 directors confirmed

While we don't know how many episodes season 2 will be, Deadline has already confirmed the full list of directors who will direct at least one episode of season 2.

Note: it is not yet confirmed how many episodes each director will take on, just that each of these directors will helm at least one episode. However, there are rumors that there will only be seven episodes this season, which would mean each of these directors would get one episode each. See the full list below: 

  • Mark Mylod (Succession)
  • Nina Lopez-Corrado (Perry Mason)
  • Stephen Williams (Watchmen)
  • Kate Herron (Loki)
  • Peter Hoar ("The Last of Us" season 1, episode 3 "Long, Long Time")
  • Craig Mazin ("The Last of Us," "Chernobyl") 
  • Neil Druckmann ("The Last of Us" TV show and video game series)

'The Last of Us' season 2 potential name

While we plan to refer to the upcoming season as "The Last of Us" season 2, don't be surprised if HBO follows the naming convention of the video game series. That means it could ditch the "season 2" and instead borrow the "Part II" naming format from the video games. 

However, as there are currently only two games, HBO may stick with conventional TV seasons so they aren't committed to adapting the entire second video game in one season like they did with "The Last of Us."

'The Last of Us' season 2 plot

A behind the scenes set photo of Greenplace Market leaked from "The Last of Us" season 2.

(Image credit: breadfruitworrywitch/Reddit)

I don't plan to get into many spoilers here. If you want spoilers, read my opinion piece on why ‘The Last of Us’ season 2 needs to stick to the game script. The second game in the series has some powerful moments that I both don't want to spoil and don't want the showrunners to deviate significantly from.

However, I will share one tidbit. It looks like Greenplace Market, which is the site of a notable action scene from the game, will be making an appearance in season 2. This is based on leaked set photos on Reddit that show the reconstructed setting from the video game.

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Malcolm McMillan
Senior Streaming Writer

Malcolm McMillan is a senior writer for Tom's Guide, covering all the latest in streaming TV shows and movies. That means news, analysis, recommendations, reviews and more for just about anything you can watch, including sports! If it can be seen on a screen, he can write about it. Previously, Malcolm had been a staff writer for Tom's Guide for over a year, with a focus on artificial intelligence (AI), A/V tech and VR headsets.

Before writing for Tom's Guide, Malcolm worked as a fantasy football analyst writing for several sites and also had a brief stint working for Microsoft selling laptops, Xbox products and even the ill-fated Windows phone. He is passionate about video games and sports, though both cause him to yell at the TV frequently. He proudly sports many tattoos, including an Arsenal tattoo, in honor of the team that causes him to yell at the TV the most.

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